Starting February 18, NFL teams are free to place the franchise tag on their impending free agents and it doesn’t look like the Broncos are going to need much more time than that to decide whether or not to use theirs.
Broncos senior vice president of football operations John Elway said that the team will be using the franchise tag on left tackle Ryan Clady. Clady and the team were unable to work out an extension before the 2012 season, leaving him to play out the final year of his contract and leaving the Broncos to do what they need to do to ensure his return in 2013. Elway said that using the tag doesn’t mean the team isn’t looking for a longer arrangement with Clady.
“We’d like to work something out, like we did last year,” Elway said, via Mike Klis of the Denver Post. “Things have changed a little bit because he’s coming off a shoulder surgery. But we like Ryan. We like him a lot as a player and we’d like to get something done.”
There were reports after the end of the Broncos season that Clady’s shoulder surgery made the tag more likely as the Broncos wanted to buy themselves some time to assess his condition before entering into a long-term contract. That approach is the one the Broncos have chosen to take, allowing them to knock one item off their to-do list as soon as they decide to formalize the tag, which would pay Clady $9.66 million in 2013 if the two sides can’t agree on a different arrangement.